SAS Global Communications joins forces with BT to deliver digital content network for ODEON

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, today announced that it has teamed up with BT to deliver a digital content network for ODEON Cinemas in the UK. The new network will connect 104 locations in the UK and will be supported by a bespoke managed services agreement created between BT and SAS .

With more than 75 years experience, ODEON is the largest cinema chain in the UK, operating 857 screens across the country and accounting for nearly one in four of all cinema tickets sold in the UK.

In 2010, ODEON announced plans to rollout an innovative digital HD system to all of its screens across the UK. The new technology is designed to give ODEON cinemas the capacity to store and manage 8000 HD films at any one time, ensuring that ODEON can provide the widest and most varied choice of films and alternative content to its audience.

To enable film distribution in the new HD format, ODEON was looking for a robust and efficient communications platform capable of handling large digital data packets. It was also looking for a full service wrap to provide management and support of the new infrastructure. As an existing BT customer, ODEON decided to approach the company for advice on creating a digital content distribution network.

“We wanted to work with a supplier for whom network provision was their core competency,” said Deborah Willacy, infrastructure and support manager for ODEON Cinemas. “BT was already supplying a number of services to us so it seemed a natural fit.”

BT suggested an introduction to SAS, a specialist in bespoke managed service solutions with extensive working knowledge across the BT network portfolio.

Satisfied that the BT/SAS model could work, ODEON invited the two companies to create a proposal for its new network.

BT and SAS returned with three potential options for ODEON’s network design. The first option was based on using BT Net with BT’s ADSL Business Broadband – locking down the network with addition security. The second option recommended BT’s Etherflow technology with MPLS and the third, used elements of all three.

All three options included a managed services wrap from SAS which would provide continuous monitoring and management of ODEON’s digital network estate, along with a single point of contact for any moves, additions or changes, and a 24/7 helpdesk for faults and billing queries on the BT network.

“I liked the fact that we were given a range of options,” said Deborah. “It gave us the opportunity to select a network that offered the best fit with our requirements and gave us the most flexibility.”

“Having an SLA in place was also key. The service needs to be up and running 24 hours a day” said Deborah. “SAS offered us the highest SLAs for support – this helps us to manage the systems we have in place and allows us to take immediate action if they go down.”

Armed with the proposal, ODEON spent the next few weeks examining its options in more detail before finally reaching a decision in favour of the Internet solution.

“We decided to go for the Internet option because the design matched our criteria and offered us a competitive pricing structure,” said Deborah.

With a green light on the proposal, SAS kicked off the project by providing technical design authority on the new network, producing a detailed design statement to ensure that all circuits and equipment would be accurately scoped and configured to meet ODEON’s requirements.

SAS also takes responsibility for the project management and installation of the new network, working closely with BT, for circuit provisioning, and with BT iNet for the supply of the Cisco hardware that will terminate each connection.

The network installation started in late 2010 and once completed will be supported on a 24/7 basis by SAS’s network operations centre in West Sussex.

Commenting on the significance of the project, Deborah said:

“This is an important project for ODEON, it will not only enable the delivery of our digital content, it will also allow us to manage and maintain the service – this helps us to maximise uptime for projectors and ultimately, means a much smoother experience for customers.”

“Companies today look for far more flexibility in their network design than they did in the past,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “Whilst requirements are still the major driver for this, budget is increasingly a deciding factor. By working with BT in collaboration with SAS, ODEON has got a solution that is both flexible and affordable. This is because the SAS custom service wrap allows ODEON to take advantage of the cost benefits of deploying BT’s 21CN Internet technologies for wide area networking whilst at the same time giving it access to the highest service levels for management and support.”

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